Archive for May 16, 2006

Slow-Cooked Moong Dal with Spinach

Portions of New England are under water for the first time in many years. Coming on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, it somehow doesn’t seem so terribly bad here, but the dreary skies and rain did seem endless. After a time it dampened my spirits a little.

This evening, the sun finally showed its face, and I feel like cooking again. So while the ground takes a breather and tries to soak up some of the wet, I am cooking dal the slow, simmering way. I don’t know if anyone else would agree, but to me some of the dals ~ notably washed moong and the split val dal ~ have the fragrance of spring.

The pot bubbles cheerily on the stove. The fresh, delicious scent seems to bring the sunshine in. It fills the house and draws my senses eagerly back from the dull days of storm.


Slow-Cooked Moong Dal with Spinach

2/3 c washed moong dal, rinsed and soaked at least 1 hour

1 tsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
4-5 curry leaves

1 healthy TB garlic paste
1 medium onion chopped
1-2 green chiles, slit

1/4 tsp methi powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch asafoetida
pinch salt

3 c spinach

2 c water

1/4 tsp tamarind extract

In a medium saucepan, heat the ghee and toast the cumin, mustard and curry leaves. Add the garlic paste, onion, and green chile. Saute over medium heat until onion begins to wilt.

Add the methi powder, turmeric, asafoetida, and salt. Cook a few minutes longer, stirring, then add the rinsed and drained dal. Stir this about for a few minutes until the dal is well coated with the spices, then add the spinach and allow it to wilt in the hot dal mixture.

Add 2 cups water, stir well, and cover tightly. Simmer 30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

After 30 minutes, the dal should be tender but still holding its shape. Remove the cover and add the tamarind extract. Stir well, and allow to cook down to desired consistency.

Correct the seasoning (add salt and/or chile powder if desired). I was pleasantly surprised with the result ~ tasted great with fresh, hot rice!


Slow-Cooked Moong Dal with Spinach
slow-cooked moong dal with spinach in a ‘colonial’, aka ‘knife-and-fork’ bowl by hocking glass, circa 1934


I found the blog world this winter through my search for authentic dal recipes. Since then I have read and learned so much about dal, and Indian home-cooking in general, that I felt confident enough to once more try something without peeking at a cookbook or blog. Thanks to all of you who inspire by giving so freely of your talent and creativity!

There are many great recipes out there ~ for dals I am particularly inspired by Priya’s lovely collection at Sugar and Spice.



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